“Is love a tender thing?” Mercutio asks Romeo, in Shakespeare’s famous play about tragic star-crossed lovers. By the end of the play, with Romeo and Juliet both dead for love – the audience has it’ answer – no, love is not a tender thing. Sometimes love goes beyond heartbreaking, sometimes love is tragic. It’s not just Romeo and Juliet who don’t get a happily ever after, here are love stories so sad, they give Romeo and Juliet a run for their money.
Real-Life Tragic Love Stories Facts
1. No Happily Ever After
Helen Simmons was just a working girl from Australia, there wasn’t anything truly out of the ordinary about her. Up until the night she went to a party and fell in love with a Prince. Back in 1976, Simmons went to a party for work and ended up meeting Prince Mukkaram Jah, an Indian prince and one of the richest men in the world. The pair fell in love, despite the fact that Jah already had a wife. Once he divorced his first wife, Jah and Simmons got married.
This real-life fairytale didn’t have a happy ending though. The pair divorced as it came to light that when Jah left Simmons alone for lengthy amounts of time, she had turned to a mystery lover Mr. X. To add to the tragedy Simmons was diagnosed with AIDs at the height of the epidemic, and passed in 1989.
2. Romeo and Juliet
Amreen was young Muslim girl living in India. She lived in a small farming village, where her family sold buffalo milk to make their living. Every day, a Hindu boy, Lokesh would come and buy milk from her family. The two met and fell in love. Unfortunately, for the pair, in India Hindu and Muslims do not marry. Their match was not going to be approved of by their respective families.
The pair married in secret, and once it was found the pair had married their tribal leader told them to separate or they’d be executed. Rather than be separated, the pair took poison together and passed.
3. Never To Be Separated
Tragedy ripped through Europe in the early 90s as Serbians attempted to ethnically cleanse Muslim Bosniaks and Bosian Croats. In this midst of this genocide, Admira Ismic, a Bosnian Muslim woman fell in love with a Serbian man, Boscko Brkic. The pair attempted to escape Sarajevo as Serbian control tightened in the city, they wanted to go someplace they could be safe, and build a better lives for themselves.
But as they left Sarajevo the pair were shot by snipers. Bosko was struck and immediately killed, Admira wounded, crawled to her lovers side, putting her arms around him she passed at his side rather than try and escape to safety. The pair lied on that bridge for eight days before their bodies were retrived and put to rest. Today they rest side by side in the same town they fell in love in.
One of Bosko’s friends said, “Back then, we thought you would make it and be happy together. But you didn’t, it is as if every great love must end like this.”
4. Not All Dreams End Happy
It was love at first sight for Nicola and John Mansfield, they just knew right away that they had found the one. Sadly, for the pair, John was diagnosed with brain cancer just two weeks after they returned from their honeymoon. The brain cancer was terminal, and in an effort to give John his dying wish and make him a father. Through IVF, Nicola got pregnant with twins, and before she could tell him he slipped into unconsciousness.
She told her husband he would be a father and only a few days later he passed. The tragedy does not end there. While pregnant, Nicola was diagnosed with brain cancer as well. While she delivered her twins safe and sound, and is continuing treatment for her brain cancer.
5. Didn’t Want To Wait
Mahmoud Ayazi and Kataun Safaie were newlywed Iranians who wanted nothing more than to be together in America. Ayazi had been studying engineering in the United States for years, when he went to Iran to marry Safaie. The pair then traveled to Germany to get a visa for Safaie but were denied. Faced with no other options, Safaie curled up in a soft sided suitcase and was packed aboard Ayazi’s flight as luggage.
Unable to breathe, Safaie passed before the plane had landed. With his wife gone, the guilt was too much for Ayazi to live with, and he shot himself in his car. The pair were buried together in Iran.
6. Senseless Loss
It was nothing more than a random act of violence that took Dave Stevens away from the love of his life, Patti. The pair were just a normal couple. Dave was a sweet and good man by all accounts, and he was tragically murdered while out on his morning jog. Unable to cope with the loss of her husband, Patti took her own life just a few days later. One senseless loss met another.
7. Dark Ends
Bill knew as soon as he met Dianne that he would stop at nothing until she was his wife. He worked hard to impress her, picking her up in a helicopter on their first date. It worked. Bill and Dianne got married and joined their two families together. Life was great for a while, up until they welcomed their new baby girl into the world.
They moved into a bigger house and tragedy struck. Dianne’s three-year-old daughter from a previous marriage fell into the pool and nearly drowned. After the accident, her daughter Jennifer was brain dead. On life support and in constant need of care, guilt began to consume Dianne. Guilt turned to bitter anger, and Dianne took her anger and guilt out on her husband.
One night as Bill was trying to leave a fight Dianne jumped onto the back of the car, fell off, and passed as her head struck the pavement. Bill never meant to end his wife’s life, but both families knew that as Dianne was further consumed by her grief that their love for each other would be the end of one–or both–of them.
8. Love Amidst Tragedy
Renia Spiegel was a young Jewish girl living in Poland during WWII. In 1939, she fell in love with a young man, Zygmunt Schwarzer. Despite their horrific surroundings, they found happiness with each other. When WWII took over her city, Renia begged for God to save them. And for a while, her prayers worked. Zygmunt escaped the Jewish ghetto with Renia and her sister.
After seeing her sister safely off with another family, Zygmunt took Renia to hide in his uncle’s attic. However, after Zygmunt left, the Nazis discovered Renia and executed her. Zygumnt arrived to find his love gone. Zygmunt, Renia’s sister, and their mother managed to escape to New York, living to tell Renia’s story.
9. Bond Girls
Pierce Brosnan married his co-star and former Bond Girl, Cassandra Harris in 1980. Brosnan adopted Harris’ two daughters and eventually the pair had their own child as well. But tragedy struck the famous family when Harris was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. Brosnan stayed at his wife’s side through chemo and eight operations. Sadly, none of them worked and Harris passed in 1991.
Brosnan said that even after she passed, he likes to sit in the garden that she loved, that he could feel her there with him. Tragedy struck again when Harris’ daughter Charlotte, who Brosnan had adopted and raised, also passed from ovarian cancer.
10. Cruel Summer
September was a jam-packed month for John Ritter and his wife Amy Yasbeck. It was their daughter’s birthday, Ritter’s birthday, and to top it all off it was also Ritter and Yasbeck’s anniversary. However, September of 2003 wasn’t just busy, it was tragic. The day of their daughter’s birthday John passed on the operating table due to an aneurysm. His last words before he went into surgery were for his wife. They were, “I love you.”
11. Tumble In The Snow
In 2009, actor Liam Neeson’s wife Natasha Richardson fell while skiing. The pair had been married for fifteen years at the time of the accident. At first, it seemed like everything would be fine. Richardson even refused to go to the hospital, calling her husband to tell him, “Oh darling, I’ve taken a tumble in the snow.” Little did Richardson know, she suffered a head injury. Later, she went to the hospital but by then it was too late. Neeson lost his wife.
The pair had made a promise to one another, that if either were in a vegetative state, they’d remove them from life support. Ultimately, Neeson kept that promise to his wife. Years after, he still says he misses her and can’t believe she’s gone.
12. Until The End
Johnny and June Cash weren’t just musicians who changed the shape of country and rock. They also had an incredible love story. Johnny had a hard life starting out. He survived the Great Depression in the 30s, lost a brother, and struggled with addiction. Amid all this tragedy, he finally encountered some happiness when he met June Carter, a fellow singer and a fan.
After twelve tumultuous years, Johnny proposed and the two got married. They stayed married until June’s passing in May 2003. Johnny followed his beloved wife, passing just four months later of a broken heart.
13. Natural Disaster
Model Petra Nemcova was on a vacation in Thailand the winter of 2004 with her boyfriend Simon Atlee, during one of the worst natural disasters of our time. A typhoon hit the island and pulled the couple out to sea. Nemcova could hear Atlee calling for her, but the water quickly separated the pair.
The wave shattered Nemcova’s pelvis in four places and almost drowned her. It was only through luck that she caught on to a passing palm tree and managed to hold on before a rescue time recovered her. While recovering from her injuries, she learned that her boyfriend had passed in the tsunami.
14. Animal Lovers
In 1992, while touring a wildlife rehab facility Steve Irwin met Terri, the woman who would be his wife. Terri also loved animals and conservation. Eight months later, they wed. Together they built up the show that made Steve famous. In 2006, while filming an underwater documentary, a short-tail stingray attacked Steve, ending his life. He left behind his wife, and two children who have continued with his conservation work.
15. Lost Love
Legendary actor Clark Gable was lucky enough to find the love of his life in fellow actress Carole Lombard. The pair had a whirlwind Hollywood romance. After they married, they lived at a farm and raised animals. Sadly, all that changed in 1930. Lombard’s plane crashed into a mountain, ending her life instantly. The authorities had to stop Gable from climbing up the mountain and retrieving her body. Despite the fact that he married twice after that, when Gable passed, his wife buried him beside Lombard, the love of his life.
16. Infamous Lovers
Antony and Cleopatra were so famous that Shakespeare went ahead and wrote a whole play about them. The lovers committed suicide as Egypt was conquered by Rome. When he was mistakenly told that Cleopatra took her own life, Antony stabbed himself in grief. Cleopatra then famously followed her lover to the grave. They are supposedly buried together, though no one has found their tomb.
17. World Wonder
Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal had a love that inspired one of the wonders of the world: The Taj Mahal. They were a royal couple in India and very much in love. Mumtaz passed giving birth to their 14th child. In his grief over his wife’s passing, Shah Jahan constructed and built the Taj Mahal in honor of his wife’s memory.
18. Royal Scandal
King Alexander I of Serbia fell in love with his mother’s lady-in-waiting, Draga. She was 12 years older than him and a widow. No one wanted the pair to marry, not even Alexander’s mother, who wound up getting banished for protesting the marriage. The marriage was so wildly unpopular that it resulted in the pair’s assassination.
19. A Tale As Old As Time
Few love stories are so outrageous that they become three-hour Bollywood epics. But most love stories don’t involve Peshwa Baji Rao falling for the warrior princess Mastani. Rao was smitten, despite the fact that his clan didn’t want them to marry due to the fact she was Muslim and he was Hindu. They got hitched anyways. He took her as his second wife because well … he loved her. Baji Rao passed in battle, and when news reached Mastani she ended her own life out of grief.
20. Civil Blood Makes Civil Hands Unclean
In Portugal, in 1340, Prince Pedro fell in love with his wife’s lady-in-waiting, Ines de Castro. The pair had three kids, while Pedro’s wife was still alive. And when his wife passed, he tried to make Ines his wife and queen. But his father put his foot down, sending Ines away and having her “taken care of” when banishment didn’t keep her and Pedro apart.
The assassination caused Pedro to revolt against his father. When Pedro won, he put Ines in a royal tomb and made her queen of Portugal.
21. My Heart Will Go On
Isidor and Ida Straus were a couple of wealthy, first class passengers on the Titanic. As the ship went down, Ida was offered a place on a lifeboat. When she found out that her beloved husband wouldn’t be able to join her, she refused and decided to stay with him. Ida handed off her fur coat to her maid, and couple passed aboard the ship together.
22. Pomegranate Blossom
In India, the story of Anarkali and the Prince is the stuff of legends. Prince Salim fell in love with the beautiful Anarkali, a slave girl. So famed was her beauty, she earned her name Anarkali, which means pomegranate blossom. When Salim told his father that he intended to marry a commoner, he became enraged. The Emperor had Anarkali buried alive.
23. Out Of Time
When Gordon Edwards was shot on the battlefields during WWI, he didn’t expect to find love waiting for him in the English hospital he’d been taken to. But find love he did. Gordon fell in love with his nurse, May James. Once he returned to duty, the pair wed. Gordon survived WWI, but passed of pneumonia just a few days after the conflict ended. He never made it home to his wife and daughter.
24. Together Forever
Mary and Earl Myatt fell in love as teenagers and spent the rest of their lives loving each other. Over the years, they became perfect parents and later on, loving grandparents. Always making sure to spend time with their grandkids or watching them play golf or basketball. There was nothing about them that anyone could possibly want to change. Right until Mary was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Doctors tried everything they could do to help Mary but, in the end, it was useless.
After her diagnoses Mary wasn’t the same. She needed help with the most basic things. Even still her husband Earl did the best he could to spend every day with her. But as she lost herself, he got more and more depressed. Unable to bear life without her, Earl took Mary to the train tracks one Sunday, and the pair stepped in front of the path of an oncoming train. They passed together, after calling to tell their son good-bye.